Sen. John Cornyn is calling on Attorney General Loretta Lynch to appoint a special counsel to oversee the investigation into Hillary Clinton off-the-books email arrangement.
“Secretary Clinton’s misconduct is evident, and her intent — since the beginning of her tenure as Secretary of State — to keep information from the public is clear,” stated Cornyn, the Senate GOP’s second-in-command.
“The present circumstances surrounding her use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State could not be more extraordinary,” the Texas senator continued, “nor the conflicts greater. Americans deserve the assurance that justice — and justice alone — is being pursued.”
The letter marks new territory in the brewing Clinton email scandal.
So far, House and Senate Republicans have conducted their own committee investigations into Clinton’s use of a personal email account and private server as secretary of state.
The FBI is conducting its own independent investigation specifically into Clinton’s server, which was found to have contained “top secret” emails.
“We now know, among other things, that classified information was transmitted over the server, including by Clinton herself,” Cornyn wrote.
The Intelligence Community inspector general has deemed that at least two emails that traversed Clinton’s email server contained highly classified “top secret” intelligence. That’s in addition to the approximately 200 emails that the State Department has retroactively determined contain information that is classified as “confidential.”
Clinton has vehemently denied that she sent or received classified information.
Cornyn also faulted the Democratic presidential candidate for failing to turn over her State Department emails in a timely manner.
Clinton left the agency in Feb. 2013 but did not turn over her emails — 55,000 pages worth — until Dec. 2014.
By operating a homebrew email system and failing to turn over her emails until nearly two years after leaving office, Clinton avoided having her correspondence made available to a number of Freedom of Information Act requests and congressional inquiries.
Clinton and her attorneys also deleted tens of thousands of emails they determined were personal in nature.
It is still unclear whether the server Clinton used was completely wiped of all of its data.
Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, has stated that the emails no longer exist on the server. But last week, the private IT company that handled the device said that the server was never wiped clean. The company, Platte River Networks, turned the server over to the FBI last month.
Cornyn’s letter also references Bryan Pagliano, the former State Department IT staffer who helped set up and manage Clinton’s email arrangement. Cornyn notes that Pagliano invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination during a brief interview with the the House Select Committee on Benghazi last week.
Pagliano has also said he will plead the Fifth if called before the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, both of which are looking into the Clinton email affair.
All of those circumstances — which Cornyn asserts are “extraordinary” — warrant the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the arrangement.
“The Attorney General has a special duty to pursue justice even when political considerations run counter to doing so,” Cornyn writes.
“At critical times in our nation’s history, your predecessors have exercised that duty by appointing politically-independent individuals to investigate potential wrongdoing involving senior administration officials. Department of Justice (DOJ) regulations provide that you may appoint a Special Counsel if you believe a criminal investigation is warranted and there is a conflict of interest for the DOJ or if ‘extraordinary circumstances’ warrant the appointment.”